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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Down a few rabbit holes in search for a historic pamphlet on Fascism

I went down a little rabbit hole today and thought I’d share since it’s a good representation of some of the issues we face in the library government information world.

It all started innocently enough with my daily substack missive from Heather Cox Richardson’s “Letters from an American” (May 29, 2023) — if you haven’t subscribed to her essay, you’re missing out. She’s amazing at putting current events into historical context! Go subscribe NOW!)

Beginning in 1943, the War Department published a series of pamphlets for U.S. Army personnel in the European theater of World War II. Titled Army Talks, the series was designed “to help [the personnel] become better-informed men and women and therefore better soldiers.”

On March 24, 1945, the topic for the week was “FASCISM!”

She had me from the first sentence! I thought, this is SO relevant to today’s political situation. So of course I went to her footnotes (she ALWAYS cites what she writes!!) and noticed that for “Army Talk Orientation Fact Sheet #64 – Fascism!” she had linked to the Internet Archive. No harm in that, but I wondered to myself why she hadn’t linked to a .gov repository. Here’s where things went a little sideways.


Comparing Hathitrust and Google Books as repositories of government documents

Here are 2 recent items analyzing Hathitrust and Google books for their efficacy in giving access to Federal government documents. The first is an article by Laura Sare (Texas A&M) and compares Hathitrust with Google Books. The second is a presentation by Brian Vetruba (Washington U in St Louis) at “Leveraging Your Strengths: Regional Government Documents Conference” at the Federal Reserve Bank St. Louis on May 4, 2012.

A Comparison of HathiTrust and Google Books Using Federal Publications. Laura Sare. Practical Academic Librarianship: The International Journal of the SLA Academic Division. 2(1) 2012 p. 1-25. (attached below. Fair use claim)

NBII goes dark. Libraries do what they do: harvest and preserve it for future access #opendata

Many of us in the government documents world woke up to 2012 with the following message posted on the Web site of the [[National_Biological_Information_Infrastructure|National Biological Information Infrastructure]] (NBII) and distributed around to various library listservs:

In the 2012 President’s Budget Request, the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) is terminated. As a result, all resources, databases, tools, and applications within this web site will be removed on January 15, 2012.

NBII has been a critical program since 1994 (See Bill Clinton’s Executive Order 12906 which created the “National Spatial Data Infrastructure” (“NSDI”)). NBII was set up to coordinate a broad array of information at the federal level about biodiversity and ecosystems.

Todd Carpenter, director of National Information Standards Organization NISO, put it nicely and succinctly when he tweeted:

What is particularly sad about NBII shutting down is it’s precisely the thing we need MORE of not less=>trusted data repositories #opendata

Well have no fear, the Library of Congress, Internet Archive and Stanford Libraries have all harvested (separately) the NBII Website — Stanford harvested twice between January 5 and January 13, 2012for its Fugitive US Agencies collection.